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Young Entrepreneurs Council

Seven ways to avoid foolish business errors Add to ...

Whether this story is true or not is irrelevant — the point is that you can accelerate your business by meeting others who inspire you because they’ve already done the things you dream of.

Here are the groups I’ve joined that have given me amazing value:

  • Yanik Silver’s Mavericks: A group of guys that come together a few times a year to do crazy, dangerous things like halo skydiving or flying MIGs in Russia. If you have money and a death wish, this is the group for you.
  • Joe Polish’s 25K: As the name suggests, I spend the equivalent of an annual college education to be part of this group of entrepreneurs that meets four to five times a year for a private mastermind, but Joe is an amazing connector. Through this group I’ve met men like Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil.
  • Awesomeness Fest: I started this event to bring together 200 people every year on a paradise location for fun and bonding. No other event I know is as much fun or creates bonds as close as this one.
  • Mindvalley Insights Mastermind: This is an experimental group I started. A couple of hundred online business owners connect online and share their website optimization tests, learnings, case studies and more. If you own an online business, the knowledge here is worth millions. Email insights@mindvalley.com for details on how to join. You must have an existing business.

6. No other skill is as important as sales and marketing. We all have different skills. But there’s one skill I feel is most crucial to entrepreneurial success, and it’s the ability to sell. I scoffed at the idea of marketing and sales. As a computer engineer, my vision of the world was “build epic stuff and the crowds will beat a path to your door.”

Rubbish. Tesla was an amazing engineer. He ended up broke and depressed as the engineer-salesman Edison took his ideas and made them count.

I failed at my first two businesses too — because I was terrible at sales, so I decided I needed a job. But my timing was off — it was April, 2001. The bubble burst in Silicon Valley: 14,000 people lost their jobs. I was attending pink-slip parties, being sure to buy just one glass of wine (to save cash) and sip it really slowly to make sure it lasted the night.

No one was hiring so I blasted my resume to every company that was posting a Bay Area job ad on Craigslist. I finally got a job at a startup selling technology to law firms. The catch? It was pure sales. If I could not close, I would not get paid. In short, close or starve. Ever see the movie Boiler Room? There were days that reminded me of that movie. It was awful work that made it hard to get out of bed in the morning. But boy, did I learn to sell and market. That made ALL the difference.

Exactly one year later on Dec. 22, 2002 I started Mindvalley. I was profitable by the third month. My new edge? Selling.

7. Don’t build crap for the sake of making a buck. I believe companies like Coca-Cola and McDonalds were started by entrepreneurs with good intentions but now exist for stockholder value. But are they actually pushing humanity forward?

In that famous Apple ad, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones,” Steve Jobs actually contributed just one line. It was, “Push humanity forward.” That’s what real entrepreneurs do. Peter Diamandis is taking mankind to space. Mr. Branson adds fun, quality service and cheekiness to old entrenched industries. Tony Hsieh “delivers happiness.” I believe in teaching the world new things that enrich the human potential.

I’m not asking you to dedicate your life to changing the world. I’m just asking you to not launch businesses that sell crap, pillage the environment, take advantage of developing nations or market junk that lead to childhood obesity and other health disasters. You don’t have to save the world — just try not to mess it up for our children.

Know the difference between and entrepreneur and a businessman? Here’s the difference: Business people do it for the dollars.

But real entrepreneurs push the human race forward.

Are you?

A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog.

Vishen Lakhiani is the founder ofMindvalley. He builds and invests in businesses that are focused on education and personal growth.

TheYoung Entrepreneur Council(YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

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